The Maoists have urged Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to quit the Union cabinet protesting the Centre-state offensive against the rebels.
“If she is truly against the gross injustice being done against the tribals, … she should quit the government and hit the streets demanding withdrawal of the combined forces,” read a statement of Koteshwar Rao, alias Kishenji, politburo member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The statement, issued on Thursday, urged the Trinamool chief to prove that she was really a “friend of the tribals”.
Since Banerjee was not available, Hindustan Times contacted other Trinamool leaders, who seemed to baulk at the suggestion. “I am not a part of the Union government. So it won’t be proper for me to comment,” said Partha Chatterjee, Trinamool secretary general and leader of the Opposition in West Bengal Assembly.
Party general secretary and Minister of State for Shipping and Ports Mukul Roy patiently listened to the Maoists’ suggestion before saying, “I am busy with something and can’t speak now.”
Earlier, Trinamool Member of Parliament Kabir Suman irked Banerjee by openly supporting the Maoist movement in Lalgarh, about 170 km west of Kolkata, and opposing the Centre-state offensive.
The Maoists called a 48-hour shutdown, starting March 23 in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh protesting increases in food and petroleum product prices.
The Maoists have also included three Maharashtra districts, Gadchiroli, Vandara and Chandrapur, and one Madhya Pradesh district, Balaghat, in the shutdown call.